American middle-distance runner Nikki Hiltz came out as transgender on Wednesday, which was celebrated as International Transgender Day of Visibility. Hiltz, whose Instagram bio notes her preferred pronouns are “she/they,” has been openly gay for several years, and she posted on social media to share the news that she is transgender and, more specifically, non-binary.
“Hi I’m Nikki and I’m transgender,” Hiltz wrote on Instagram. “That means I don’t identify with the gender I was assigned at birth. The word I use currently to describe my gender is non-binary. The best way I can explain my gender is as fluid.”
Hiltz elaborated more on that point, writing that some days she wakes up “feeling like a powerful queen” and others she gets up “feeling as if I’m just a guy being a dude.” She also notes that there are some days when she identifies “outside of the gender binary entirely.”
Hiltz ran for the University of Oregon before transferring to Arkansas, where she finished her collegiate career. She ran onto the podium at multiple NCAA Championships, including second in the 1,500m at the NCAA Outdoors in 2017 and 2018. Hiltz graduated and turned pro in 2018, and a year later she won gold in the 1,500m at the Pan Am Games in Peru. That same year, she won the USATF 1 Mile Road Championships, and later that fall she represented the U.S. at the World Athletics Championships in Doha, where she placed 12th in the 1,500m.
When I was 19 I came out about my sexuality. Yesterday at 26 I came out about my gender identity.
There’s nothing like the morning after coming out. This morning there are nerves, excitement and a heart full of gratitude. All I can say is thank you, it feels so good to be seen.
— Nikki Hiltz (@Nikki_Hiltz) April 1, 2021
Her announcement comes at a time when many transgender athletes are under fire in the U.S. According to a recent report from Reuters, 25 states are considering bills that would ban transgender women and girls from competing in women’s sports at elementary school, high school and college.
In her post, Hiltz notes that her gender identity is “complicated and complex,” and it’s something she says she is still trying to figure out for herself. “Posting this is both exciting and terrifying, but I am and always will be a firm believer that vulnerability and visibility are essential in creating social change and acceptance,” Hiltz wrote. “So here I am, once again, coming out of a closet to be my true authentic self.”